Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic in the United States with many Americans, including physicians, unaware that they may be lacking this vital nutrient. Contrary to popular belief, vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It really acts like a steroid hormone that you get primarily from either sun exposure or supplementation and functions to influence genetic expression that produces many of its proposed health benefits.
Researchers report that increasing levels of vitamin D3 in the general population could prevent chronic diseases that claim almost one million lives each year worldwide. Incidence of certain types of cancer could also be cut in half. Vitamin D combats infections, including the flu and colds, as it regulates the expression of genes that induce your immune system to attack and destroy viruses and bacteria.
Since the early 2000’s, scientific investigations into the effects of vitamin D have exploded. By the end of 2012, there were nearly 34,000 of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 32 percent of children and adults throughout the US were vitamin D deficient. So what are the alternatives for the treatment of vitamin D deficiency? Sunlight and supplementation are the only answers.
Sunlight carries inherent danger for skin cancer and damage if poorly regulated. Supplementation is always an option but should be closely monitored since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the body in excess.
At present, the US cancer mortality rate is equivalent to 8-10 airplanes crashing each and every single day. Optimizing vitamin D rates across the general population could reduce that by about 50 percent as noted in the Nurses’ Health Study.
Preeclampsia, the most serious complication of pregnancy, is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is critically important for muscle function with as much as a 400 percent reduced risk of women requiring a C-section if they simply were vitamin D sufficient at the time they gave birth.
Cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, bone demineralization and DNA repair from oxidative stress are all impacted by Vitamin D in the body.
What you do with this information can have both immediate and long-term effects on your general and reproductive health. Ask your healthcare provider to test your vitamin D3 levels and insist on keeping them at the 50-70 ng/ml range for optimal benefits. Remember, the more you know about your health, the better you can advocate for yourself in the healthcare delivery system.